There was one day I was in the house and I could not decide on what I had a taste for. I cook almost every day, so I wanted to try something different for once. I looked around the kitchen. Tilapia fish fillets and a pack of ramen noodles – chicken flavor. Hmm, I thought. First I pan-fried the fish. Then I took the noodles and I boiled them until they were medium done. Next, I drained most of the water off the noodles and added them to the pan in which I had fried the fish to get a little bit of the fish. I added the chicken flavoring from the noodles and continued to cook them until they were tender. Then I sat down and devoured it. I was in ecstasy!  But I wasn’t finished. I prepared and served the same dish to my family when they got home. Huge smiles all around! And then the next day I got up early and cooked it up to bring to school. “What smells so good?” everybody said. “Can we have a taste?”

I remember the first meal I ever cooked. Sunday breakfast for my aunt and cousin and the rest of the family. I was 8.

My aunt told me how to scramble eggs to her exact specifications. Eggs can be tricky, but I did it. Then on to the crunchy-skinned sausage, the pancakes, and the toast. I’ve been cooking ever since, and rarely do I use a cookbook. Sugar cookies are the exception: you’ve got to measure with precision and keep your eye on the clock while they are baking to keep them from burning. I also get ideas from the Internet. Experience has taught me there’s a reason a recipe is the Number 1 hit on Google.

I have had that certain spark about my cooking ever since I could first see over the stove. Seeing people respond to something I have made warms up a special section of my heart.

Because cooking is in my blood, culinary school is in my future. There is a lot that I want to learn – especially the business side: how to make profit; how to come up with a menu that will knock the socks off my competitors. And also how to hire a staff that will treat each other as one big family. That may be most important.

New Year’s Day this year got me thinking seriously about my future: what am I doing with my life? do I really want to be in the situation that I am in? Do I want to bring children into this world with the man I was so-called “with”? I thought to myself I don’t need to be in a relationship right now. I need to be focused on me, my family, and my career and how to interweave them.

I need to see my life as a recipe for happiness and success. There are past experiences like the many dishes I already know how to make, where I have absorbed as much knowledge as I possibly can from the situations I have been in. These life experiences are like the entrée: you have to have the specific ingredients for everything to come together and taste delicious but, for right now I don’t quite have all the materials for everything to go smoothly. I’m like ramen in a pot that is only half cooked. And sometimes my mind feels like scrambled eggs. But that’s okay; some things take a while to cook.

I’m still young; I have my whole life ahead of me. But I’ve lived long enough, know myself and my creative instincts well enough to be certain that, in the end, everything I bring to the table will serve up the hugest smile.

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